The Treasury has revealed that workers in financial distress who hope for early access to a portion of their retirement savings while still employed will not be able to do so until at least 2022. A Business Day report says in a statement that sought to clarify a proposal to allow partial pre-retirement access to pensions during emergencies or extraordinary circumstances, the government also said SA’s largest pension pool, the R1.9trn Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF), will be excluded from the proposal.
This exclusion – which will rule out its 1.2m members, who are mostly public servants – has been roundly condemned by Cosatu, which said that the proposed reform should apply to all workers ‘whether they are in the public service or the private sector’. Treasury said: ‘Any consideration for early access will require legislative and fund rule amendments because the current law and policy prohibit any preretirement access to retirement savings unless an employee resigns or is retrenched. It is expected that the earliest that any changes would become effective for a new withdrawal mechanism is 2022.’